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Charlotte Checkers Corner: Clinchin’ Checkers

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The Charlotte Checkers were the first team to punch their ticket to the Calder Cup playoffs.

Scott Kinser/Charlotte Checkers

The Charlotte Checkers kept their point streak alive with a 3-0-1 week at home. Charlotte did not allow more than two goals in any of the four games.

Weekly Recap

The Checkers started their week off with an overtime loss to the Syracuse Crunch. Martin Necas scored his 11th goal of the season but Alex Barre-Boulet played spoiler in overtime as he potted his 30th goal less than a few minutes in. Alex Nedeljkovic only faced 20 shots and stopped 18 of them.

Charlotte bounced back against Syracuse with a 4-2 win Wednesday. Jake Bean had a multi-point game with two assists and Morgan Geekie also had a pair of assists. Necas continued his strong pace with two goals and Nicolas Roy added a goal and an assist. Alex Nedeljkovic had a very strong game with 32 stops on 34 shots.

The Checkers got a well-deserved break before taking on the Hartford Wolf Pack on Saturday and came away with a 3-1 win. Charlotte took advantage of their special teams opportunities by going 2-for-5 with the man advantage. Martin Necas scored the opening goal and Jake Bean had two assists.

Charlotte kept the ball rolling with their final win of the week — a 6-2 beat down of Hartford. Five players had multi-point nights and the Checkers scored three unanswered goals to round out the game. Aleksi Saarela played a vital role in the win, finishing with a pair of goals.

Thought of the Week

It may be shrouded by Rod Brind’Amour’s brilliance in Raleigh, but the work that Mike Vellucci is doing in Charlotte should not go unnoticed. The Checkers are headed back to the Calder Cup playoffs and this time, Vellucci most likely wants the team to take the next step. He’s improved every facet of the Checkers game that Ulf Samuelsson was not able to in his brief pit stop. Special teams, offensive structure and finding a balance in goalies has helped this team make huge strides this year.

Vellucci has completely established a brand of hockey for the team to play that will translate well for prospects that graduate to Raleigh. Now, it will soon be time for the Checkers to make the next step in the playoffs and maybe, just maybe, win it all.

Player of the Week

This week’s player of the week goes to Martin Necas due to his outburst of goals this week. Necas sits third on the team with 42 points (14 goals, 28 assists). The prospect of Necas soon graduating should be exciting for Canes fans in what could turn out to be a young, three-headed monster in Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Necas.

Looking Ahead

It’s full speed ahead for the Checkers as they begin to wrap the regular season and look towards the playoffs. The Checkers hit the road for three games this week, making stops in Bridgeport and Hartford then back to Bridgeport to wrap up their week on Saturday. April will see the Checkers play six games in ten days to finish up the regular season.